Compound vs Isolation Exercises - Which One is Best?
Updated: Apr 18
Regardless of whether you’re just beginning your fitness journey or you’ve been on it for a while now, you can benefit from both types of exercise!
What are compound exercises?
Simply put, a compound exercise is an exercise that targets and utilizes multiple major muscle groups and joints at the same time. If you’re following a fitness program or you participate in sports, you most likely perform at least some of these movements during practice.
Deadlifts, squats, and pushups are typically considered compound exercises and if your goal is to get fitter, compound exercises are an excellent addition to your fitness routine. By working multiple joints and muscles at the same time, you may end up burning more calories just because you’ll expend more energy. Similarly, the multiple movements that take place during a compound exercise prepare your body to lift heavier loads than an isolation exercise.
What are isolation exercises?
Isolation exercises are movements that target a specific muscle group and make use of only one joint like the biceps in a bicep curl, whereas a compound exercise utilizes multiple muscle groups and joints.
Curls, raises, and extensions are typically considered isolation exercises, and you may want to do them to grow a particular muscle or work an area that had you’ve neglected for some time. Isolation exercises do precisely what their name suggests — they isolate. By placing the attention on one muscle group only, these exercises can achieve significant muscle gains in specific parts of the body.
Compound exercise benefits
In a nutshell, compound exercises can…
· Save time.
· Burn more calories.
· Make you stronger.
· Help improve coordination.
Isolation exercise benefits
The benefits of isolation exercises include…
· Targeting specific muscles without stressing any others.
· Assist with injury recovery as you target one muscle without getting the injured ones involved.
· Strengthening an area you feel is weaker than the rest of your body.
Normally in these types of debates there isn't a real "winner" or "loser" and this is a similar case except for one thing: Compound Exercises tend to mimic movements that are more useful for day-to-day life. They also burn more calories and lead to more significant gains, and they kill (at least) two birds with one stone. Isolation exercises are great too and depending on your goals may be your go to exericses however, Compound Exercises give you technically more "bang for your buck" so today's winner of this not so great debate lol is .... COMPOUND EXERCISES!!!
If you have questions about how to incorporate these or any other exercises into your workout, contact me :).
Interested in a fitness/wellness consultation or have some questions about nutrition and your current fitness program? Join any of my groups online (Facebook) and/or pick up my book, How to be Fit for Life - Eight Proven Steps to Reaching Your Fitness Goals, Getting Results, and Living the Fitness Life for more help with your fitness journey. And please feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have:).